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tioned him in one of his latter pieces among wrote “Eugenia, a Defence of Women;" wl those that had encouraged his juvenile studies: Dryden honoured with a Preface. -Granville the polite,
**Lsculapius, or the Hospital of Fools,” P
lished after his death. And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write.
“A Collection of Letters and Poems, amor In his “Essay on Criticism” he had given and gallant," was published in the volumes cal him more splendid praise ; and, in the opinion Dryden's Miscellany, and some other occasioi of his more learned commentator, sacrificed a pieces. little of his judgment to his gratitude.
To his Poems and Letters is prefixed a ve The time of his death I have not learned. It judicious Preface upon Epistolary Compositi, must have happened between 1707, when he and Amorous Poetry. wrote to Pope, and 1711, when Pope praised In his “Golden Age restored,” there wi aim in his “Essay." The epitaph makes him something of humour, while the facts werer forty-six years old; if Wood's account be right, cent; but it now strikes no longer. In his im he died in 1709.
tation of Horace, the first stanzas are happil He is known more by his familiarity with turned ; and in all his writings there are pleasin. greater men, than by any thing done or written passages. He has, however, more eleganc by himself.
than vigour, and seldom rises higher than to b His works are not numerous. In prose he | pretty.
Of the great poet whose life I am about to | malicious, I do not remember that he is ever delineate, the curiosity which his reputation charged with waste of his patrimony: He was, must excite will require a display more ample indeed, sometimes reproached for his first relithan can now be given. His contemporaries, gion. I am therefore inclined to believe that however they reverenced his genius, left his life Derrick’s intelligence was partly true, and unwritten ; and nothing therefore can be known partly erroneous. Il beyond what casual mention and uncertain tra- From Westminster School, where he was indition have supplied.
structed as one of the King's scholars by Dr.
Busby, whom he long after continued to reveJohn Dryden was born August 9, 1631,7 at Aldwinkle, near Oundle, the son of Erasmus Westminster scholarships at Cambridge. I
rence, he was, in 1650, elected to one of the Dryden, of Titchmersh ; who was the third son of Sir Erasmus Dryden, baronet, of Canons a poem on the death of Lord Hastings, com
Of his school performances has appeared only Ashby. All these places are in Northampton- posed with great ambition of such conceits as, shire; but the original stock of the family was
notwithstanding the reformation begun by in the county of Huntingdon.I He is reported by his last biographer, Der- still kept in reputation. Lord Hastings died of
Waller and Denham, the example of Cowley rick, to have inherited from his father an estate the small-pox ; and his poet has made of the of two hundred a year, and to have been bred, as was said, an anabaptist. For either of these pustules first rose-buds, and then gems : at last
exalts them into stars; and says, particulars no authority is given. Such a fortune ought to have secured him from that pover- No comet need foretell his change drew on, ty which seems always to have oppressed him;
Whose corpse might seem a constellation. or, if he had wasted it, to have made him At the University he does not appear to have ashamed of publishing his necessities. But been eager of poetical distinction, or to have though he had many enemies, who undoubtedly lavished his early wit either on fictitious subexamined his life with a scrutiny sufficiently jects or public occasions. He probably con
sidered, that he who proposed to be an author * The Life of Dryden, though in point of composition ought first to be a student. He obtained, what. it is one of the most admirable or Johnson's productions, ever was the reason, no fellowship in the Colbiography prefixed to his “ Prose Works,” bas collected lege. Why he was excluded cannot now be a much more ample and accurate account;
and from known, and it is vain to guess : had he thought that valuable work several dates and other particulars himself injured, he knew how to complain. In
Mr. Malone has lately proved that there is no satis. the Life of Plutarch he mentions his education factory evidence for this date. The inscription on Dry. den's monument says only natus 1632. See Malone's Life of Dryden, prefixed to his “Critical and Miscella- || Mr. Derrick's Life of Dryden was prefixed to a very neous Prose Works," p. 5, note.-C.
beautiful and correct edition of Dryden's Miscellanies, for Cumberland. Ibid. p. 10.-C.
published by the Tonsons in 1760, 4 vols. Svo. Derrick's Mr. Malone has furnished us with a detailed account part, however, was poorly executed, and the edition of our Poet's circumstances; from which it appears that never became popular.-C. although he was possessed of a sufficient income in the He went off io Trinity College, and was admitted to early part of his life, he was considerably embarrassed a bachelor's degree in Jan. 1653-4, and in 1657 was See Malone's Life, p. 440.-J. B.
made master of arts.-C.
at its close.
in the College with gratitude; but, in a prologue often poignant and often jest; but with such a at Oxford, he has these lines:
degree of reputation, as made him at least seeme Oxford to him a dearer name shall be,
of being heard, whatever might be the final de Than his owa mother university,
termination of the public. Thebes did his rude unknowing youth engage; His first piece was a comedy called "The He chooses Athens in his riper age.
Wild Gallant.;" He began with no happy auIt was not till the death of Cromwell, in 1658, guries; for his performance was so much disap, that he became a public candidate for fame, * by proved, that he was compelled to recall it, and publishing "Heroic Stanzas on the late Lord change it from its imperfect state to the form in Protector;" which, compared with the verses which it now appears, and which is yet sufof Sprat and Waller on the same occasion, were ciently defective to vindicate the critics. sufficient to raise great expectations of the rising I wish that there were no necessity of followPoet.
ing the progress of his theatrical fame, or tracing When the King was restored, Dryden, like the meanders of his mind through the whole sethe other panegyrists of usurpation, changed his ries of his dramatic performances; it will be fit, opinion, or his profession, and published “As- however, to enumerate them, and to take espetrea Redux, a Poem on the happy Restoration cial notice of those that are distinguished by any and Return of his most sacred Majesty King peculiarity, intrinsic or concomitant; for the Charles the Second.”
composition and fate of eight-and-twenty dra The reproach of inconstancy was, on this oc- mas include too much of a poetical life to be casion, shared with such numbers, that it
omitted. duced neither hatred nor disgrace! if he changed, In 1664, he published “The Rival Ladies," he changed with the nation. It was, however, which he dedicated to the Earl of Orrery, a man not totally forgotten when his reputation raised of high reputation both as a writer and as a him enemies.
statesman. In this play he made his essay of The same year he praised the new King in a dramatic rhyme, which he defends, in his dedisecond poem on his restoration. In the As-cation, with sufficient certainty of a favourable trea” were the lines,
hearing; for Orrery was himself a writer of An horrid stillness first invades the ear,
rhyming tragedies. And in that silence we a tempest fear
He then joined with Sir Robert Howard in for which he was persecuted with perpetual parts which either of them wrote are not distip
“The Indian Queen," a tragedy in rhyme. The ridicule, perhaps with more than was deserved. guished. Silence is indeed mere privation; and, so considered, cannot invade ; but privation likewise It is a tragedy in rhyme, intended for a sequel
"The Indian Emperor” was published in 1667. certainly is darkness, and probably cold; yet to Howard's "Indian Queen.” Of this connexpoetry has never been refused the right of as-ion notice was given to the audience by printed Cribing effects or agency to them as to positive bills, distributed at the door ; an expedient suphinders him from his work, or that cold has posed to be ridiculed in “The Rehearsal," where killed the plants. Death is also privation; yet instil into the audience some conception of his
Bayes tells how many reams he has printed, to who has made any difficulty of assigning to death a dart and the power of striking?
plot. In settling the order of his works there is Rymer has made famous by preferring it to those
In this play is the description of Night, which some difficulty; for, even when they are impor- of all other poets. tant enough to be formally offered to a patron,
The practice of making tragedies in rhyme he does not commonly date his dedication ; time of writing and publishing is not always the was introduced soon after the Restoration, as it same; nor can the first editions be easily found, the opinion of Charles the Second, who bad if even from them could be obtained the neces- formed his taste by the French theatre ; and sary information.t The time at which his first play was exhibited declaring that he wrote only to please, and who
Dryden, who wrote, and made no difficulty of is not certainly known, because it was not and revived; but since the plays are said to be than without it, very readily adopted his masprinted till it was
, some years afterwards, altered perhaps knew that by his dexterity of versificaprinted in the order in which they were written, ter's preference. He therefore made rhyming from the dates of some, those of others may be tragedies, till, by the prevalence of manifest inferred ; 1663, in the thirty-second year of his life, he propriety, he seems to have grown ashamed of
making them any longer. commenced a writer for the stage; compelled undoubtedly by necessity, for he appears never dramatic rhyme, in confutation of the preface to
To this play is prefixed a vehement defence of to have loved that exercise of his genius, or to - The Duke of Lerma,” in which Sir Robert have much pleased himself with his own dramas. Howard had censured it. Of the stage, when he had once invaded it, he
In 1667, he published “Annus Mirabilis, the kept possession for many years; not indeed without the competition of rivals who sometimes Year of Wonders,” which may be esteemed one
of his most elaborate works.
It is addressed to Sir Robert Howard by a
The “Duke of Guise” was his first attempt in the 1 The order of his plays has been accurately ascer- drama, but laid aside and afterwards new modelled.See lained by Mr. Malone.-6.
Malone, p. 51.-J. B.
writing to a poet, he has interspersed many well of his own productions ? and determines critical observations, of which some are com- very justly, that, of the plan and disposition, and mon, and some perhaps ventured without much all that can be reduced to principles of science, consideration. He began, even now, to exer- the author may depend upon his own opinion; cise the domination of conscious genius, by re- but that, in those parts where fancy predomicommending his own performance: “I am satis- nates, self-love may easily deceive. He might fied that as the Prince and General" (Rupert have observed, that what is good only because and Monk] " are incomparably the best subjects it pleases, cannot be pronounced good till it has I ever had, so what I have written on them is been found to please. much better than what I have performed on any
“Sir Martin Mar-all” (1668) is a comedy, other. As I have endeavoured to adorn my published without preface or dedication, and at poem with noble thoughts, so much more to ex- first without the name of the author. Lang. press those thoughts with elocution."
baine charges it, like most of the rest, with plaIt is written in quatrains, or heroic stanzas of giarism; and observes, that the song is translafour lines ; a measure which he had learned ted from Voiture, allowing however that both from the “Gondibert” of Davenant, and which the sense and measure are exactly observed. he then thought the most majestic that the Eng- “The Tempest” (1670) is an alteration of lish language affords. Of this stanza he men- Shakspeare's play, made by Dryden in conjunctions the incumbrances, increased as they were tion with Davenant; "whom,” says he, “I by the exactness which the age required. It was, found of so quick a fancy, that nothing was throughout his life, very much his custom to re proposed to him in which he could not suddenly commend his works by representation of the dif- produce a thought extremely pleasant and surficulties that he had encountered, without ap- prising; and those first thoughts of his, contrary pearing to have sufficiently considered that where to the Latin proverb, were not always the least there is no difficulty, there is no praise.
happy; and as his fancy was quick, so likewise There seems to be, in the conduct of Sir were the products of it remote and new. He Robert Howard and Dryden towards each other, borrowed not of any other; and his imaginasomething that is not now easily to be ex- tions were such as could not easily enter into any plained.* Dryden, in his dedication to the Earl other man.” of Orrery, had defended dramatic rhyme ; and The effect produced by the conjunction of Howard, in a preface to a collection of plays, these two powerful minds was, that to Shak. had censured his opinion. Dryden vindicated speare's monster, Caliban, is added a sister monhimself in his “Dialogue on Dramatic Poetry :” ster, Sycorax; and a woman, who, in the origiHoward, in his preface to “the Duke of Lerma,” | nal play, had never seen a man, is in this brought animadverted on the vindication ; and Dryden, acquainted with a man that had never seen a in a preface to “ The Indian Emperor,” replied woman. to the animadversions with great asperity, and
About this time, in 1673, Dryden seems to almost with contumely. The dedication to this have had his quiet much disturbed by the sucplay is dated the year in which the “ Annus Mi- cess of “The Empress of Morocco," a tragedy rabìlis” was published. Here appears a strange written in rhyme by Elkanah Settle; which was inconsistency; but Langbaine affords some help, so much applauded, as to make hím think his by relating that the answer to Howard was not supremacy of reputation in some danger. Setpublished in the first edition of the play, but was the had not only been prosperous on the stage, added when it was afterwards reprinted: and as but, in the confidence of success, had published “ The Duke of Lerma” did not appear till 1668, his play with sculptures and a preface of defithe same year in which the dialogue was pub- ance. Here was one offence added to another; lished, there was time enough for enmity to and, for the last blast of inflammation, it was grow up between authors, who, writing both for acted at Whitehall by the court ladies. the theatre, were naturally rivals.
Dryden could not now repress those emotions, He was now so much distinguished, that in which he called indignation, and others jealousy 1668† he succeeded Sir William Davenant as but wrote upon the play and the dedication such poet-laureat. The salary of the laureat had been criticism as malignant impatience could pour out raised in favour of Jonson, by Charles the in haste. First, from a hundred marks to one hundred Of Settle he gives this character : “He's an pounds a year, and a tierce of wine : a revenue animal of a most deplored understanding, within those days not inadequate to the conve- out reading and conversation. His being is in niences of life.
a twilight of sense, and some glimmering of The same year, he published his Essay on thought which he never can fashion into wit or Dramatic Poetry, an elegant and instructive dia- English. His style is boisterous and rough logue, in which we are told, by Prior, that the hewn, bis rhyme incorrigibly lewd, and his numprincipal character is meant to represent the bers perpetually harsh and ill-sounding. The Duke of Dorset. This work seems to have little talent which he has, is fancy. He somegiven Addison a model for his dialogues upon times labours with a thought; but, with the pud. Medals.
der he makes to bring it into the world, 'tis com“Secret Love, or the Maiden Queen” (1668), monly still-born ; so that, for want of learning is a tragi-comedy. In the preface he discusses and elocution, he will never be able to express a cunous question, whether a poet can judge any thing either naturally or justly."
This is not very decent; yet this is one of the * See Malone, p. 91.-J. B.
pages in which criticism prevails over brutal + He did not succeed Davenant till Aug. 18, 1670 ; but fury. He proceeds : “He has a heavy hand at and the salary commenced from the Midsummer after fools, and a great felicity in writing nonsense for Davenant's death.-C.
them. Fools they will be in spite of him. His
king, his two empresses, his villain, and his sub- | And in their orbs view the dark characters vilain, nay, his hero, have all a certain natural of sieges, ruins, murders, blood, and wars. cast of the father-their folly
was born and bred Pure and white forms ; then with a radiant light
We'li bloc out all those hideous draughts, and write in them, and something of the Elkanah will be their breasts encircle, till
their passions be visible."
Gentle as nature in its infancy; This is Dryden's general declamation ; I will Tilt, soften'd by our charms, their furies cease, not withhold from the reader a particular remark. Thus by our death their quarrel
ends, Having gone through the first act, he says, “to Whom living we made foes, dead we'll make friends. conclude this act with the most rumbling piece “ If this be not a very liberal mess, I will refer of nonsense spoken yet:
myself to the stomach of any moderate guest. To flattering lightning our feign'd smiles conform, And a rare mess it is, far excelling any West
Which, back'd with thunder, do but gild a storm. minster white-broth. It is a kind of giblet porConform a smile to lightning, make a smile imi- ridge, made of the giblets of a couple of young tate lightning, and flattering lightning; lightning hideous draughts, dark characters, white forms, and sure is a threatening thing. And this lightning radiant lights, designed not only to please appemust gild a storm. Now, if I must conform my tite, and indulge luxury; but it is also physical, smiles to lightning, then my smiles must gild a being an approved medicine to purge choler ; for storm too: to gild with smiles is a new invention it is propounded, by Morena, as a recipe to cure of gilding. And gild a storm by being backed their fathers of their choleric humours; and, with thunder. Thunder is part of the storm; were it written in characters as barbarous as the so one part of the storm must help to gild an- words, might very well pass for a doctor's bill. other part, and help by, backing; as if a man To conclude ; it is porridge, 'tis a recipe, 'tis a would gild a thing the better
for being backed, pig with a pudding in the belly, 'tis I know not gilding by conforming, smiling, lightning, back- tended to write sense had the impudence before ing, and thundering. The whole is as if I should to put such stuff as this into the mouths of those say thus : I will make my counterfeit smiles that were to speak it before an audience, whom look like a flattering stone-horse, which, being he did not take to be all fools ; and after that to backed with a trooper, does but gild the battle. print it too, and expose it to the examination of I am mistaken if nonsense is not here pretty the world.' But let us see what we can make of thick sown. Sure the poet writ these two lines this stuff: aboard some smack in a storm, and, being sea
For when we're dead, and our freed souls enlarged sick, spewed up a good lump of clotted nonsense at once."
" Here he tells what it is to be dead; it is to Here is perhaps a sufficient specimen; but as have our freed souls set free. Now, if to have a the pamphlet, though Dryden's, has never been soul set free, is to be dead; then, to have a freed thought worthy of republication, and is not soul set free, is to have a dead man die. easily to be found, it may gratify curiosity to
Then, gentle as a happy lover's sighquote it more largely:
“They two like one sigh, and that one sigh like
-Shall fly through the air-
“That is, they shall mount above like falling That allends that breath.-The poet is at breath stars, or else they shall skip like two Jacks with again; breath can never 'scape him; and here lanthorns, or Will with a wisp, and Madge with he brings in a breath that must be infectious with a candle." pronouncing a sentence; and this sentence is “ And in their airy walk steal into their cruel not to be pronounced till the condemned party fathers' breasts, like subtle guests. So that their bleeds; that is, she must be executed first, and fathers? breasts must be in an airy walk, an airy walk sentenced after; and the pronouncing of this of a flier. And there they will read their souls, and sentence will be infectious ; that is, others will track the spheres of their passions. That is, these catch the disease of that sentence, and this in- walking fliers, Jack with a lanthor, &c. will put forting of others will torment a man's self. The on his spectacles, and fall a reading souls; and whsie is thus: when she bleeds, thou needest no put on his pumps, and fall a tracking of spheres : greater hell or forment to thyself, than infecting of so that he will read and run, walk and fly, at the others by pronouncing a sentence upon her. What same time! Oh! nimble Jack! Then he will see, hodge-podge does he make here! Never was horo revenge here, how ambition there The Dutch goat such clogging, thick, indigestible birds will hop about. And then view the dark stuff. But this is but a taste to stay the sto- characters of sieges, ruins, murders, blood, and mach; we shall have a more plentiful mess pre- wars, in their orbs : track the characters to their sently.
forms! Oh! rare sport for Jack! Never was “Now to dish up the poet's broth, that I pro- place so full of game as these breasts! You can mised :
not stir, but Aush a sphere, start a character, or
unkennel an orb !" Fx when we're dead, and our freed souls enlarged,
Settle's is said to have been the first play em Of nature', grosser burden we're discharged,
bellished with sculptures; those ornaments seem Then, gentle as a happy lover's sigh, Like vand ring meteors through the air we'll fly; to have given poor Dryden great disturbance. And in our airy walk, as subtle guests,
He tries, however, to ease his pain by venting We'll steal into our cruel fathers' breasts,
his malice in a parody. There real their souls, and track each passion's sphere,
“The poet has not only been so imprudent to See bo# Revenge moves there, Ambition here;
exnose all this stuff, but so arrogant to defend it they, who accuse me of thefts, would steal him
always the sport of criticism; and were at length,
if his own confession may be trusted, the shame Great Boy, thy tragedy and sculptures done,
of the writer. From press and plates, in fleets do homeward run; And, in ridiculous and humble pride,
Of this play he has taken care to let the Their course in ballad-singers' baskets guide,
reader know, that it was contrived and written Whose greasy twigs do all new beauties take,
in seven weeks. Want of time was often his From the gay shows thy dainty sculptures make. Thy lines a mess of rhyming nonsense yield,
excuse, or perhaps shortness of time was his priA senseless tale with flattering sustian fillid
vate boast in the form of an apology. No grain of sense does in one line appear.
It was written before “The Conquest of Gra-
. The design is to When their tongues dance to thy words' empty sound,
recommend piety. “I considered that pleasure By thee inspir'd, the rumbling verses roll,
was not the only end of poesy; and that even As if that rhyme and bombast lent a soul;
the instructions of morality were not so wholly And with that soul they seem taught duty too; To huffing words does humble nonsense bow,
the business of a poet, as that the precepts and As if it would thy worthless worth enbance,
examples of piety were to be omitted; for to
were to forget that religion was first taught in From breaths or fools thy commendation spreads,
verse, which the laziness or dullness of succeedFame sings thy praise with m uths of logger-heads.
ing priesthood turned afterwards into prose.” With noise and laughing each thy sustian greets, Thus foolishly could Dryden write, rather than Tis clape by choirs of empty-headed cils,
not show his malice to the Who have their tribute sent, and homage given,
parsons. As men in whispers send loud noise to heaven.
The two parts of “ The Conquest of Grana
da" (1672) are written with a seeming determi“Thus I have daubed him with his own pud nation to glut the public with dramatic wonders, dle: and now we are come from aboard his to exhibit in its highest elevation a theatrical dancing, masking, rebounding, breathing fleet : meteor of incredible love and impossible valour, and, as if we had landed at Gotham, we meet and to leave no room for a wilder flight to the nothing but fools and nonsense.”
extravagance of posterity. All the rays Such was the criticism to which the genius of mantic heat, whether amorous or warlike, glow Dryden could be reduced between rage and ter- in Almanzor by a kind of concentration. He is ror; rage with little provocation, and terror above all laws; he is exempt from all restraints; with little danger. To see the highest mind thus he ranges the world at will, and governs wherlevelled with the meanest, may produce some ever he appears. He fights without inquiring, solace to the consciousness of weakness, and the cause, and loves in spite of the obligations of some mortification to the pride of wisdom. But justice, of rejection by his mistress, and of prolet it be remembered that minds are not levelled (hibition from the dead. Yet the scenes are, for in their powers but when they are first levelled the most part, delightful; they exhibit a kind of in their desires. Dryden and Settle had both illustrious depravity, and majestic madness, such placed their happiness in the claps of multi- as, if it is sometines despised, is often revetudes.
renced, and in which the ridiculous is mingled “An Evening's Love, or the Mock Astrolo with the astonishing. ger,” a comedy, (1671,) is dedicated to the illus- In the epilogue to the second part of “The trious Duke of Newcastle, whom he courts by Conquest of Granada,” Dryden indulges his faadding to his praises those of his lady, not only vourite pleasure of discrediting his predecessors; as a lover, but a partner of his studies. It is and this epilogue he has defended by a long post unpleasing to think how many names, once ce script. He had promised a second dialogue, in lebrated, are since forgotten. Of Newcastle's which he should more !ully treat of the virtues works nothing is now known but his Treatise on and faults of the English poets, who have writ. Horsemanship.
ten in the dramatic, epic, or lyric way, This The preface seems very elaborately written, promise was never formally performed; but, and contains many just remarks on the fathers with respect to the dramatic writers, he has of the English drama, Shakspeare's plots, he given us in his prefaces, and in this postscript, says, are in the hundred povels of Cinthio; something equivalent; but his purpose being to those of Beaumont and Fletcher in Spanish slo- exalt himself by the comparison, he shows faulis ries; Jonson only made them for himself. His distinctly, and only praises excellence in general criticisms upon tragedy, comedy, and farce, are terms. judicious and profound. He endeavours to de- A play thus written, in professed defiance of fend the immorality of some of his comedies by probability, naturally drew upon itself the vul. the example of former writers; which is only iures of the theatre. One of the critics that at. to say that he was not the first, nor perhaps the tacked it was Martin Clifford, to whom Sprat greatest offender. Against those that accused addressed the life of Cowley, with such venehim of plagiarism, he alleges a favourable ex. ration of his critical powers as might naturally pression of the King: “He only desired that I excite great expectations of instruction from his